If you’ve been batting around the idea of picking up a Thunderbolt Magnum45-Watt Solar Panel Kit #68751, now’s the time to strike, my friend. This Friday-Sunday, March 8-10, the legendary Harbor Freight Tools Sidewalk Sale is running, with the solar panel kit going for a cool $139.99! And if you miss the sale, no worries– between now and Monday, March 18, the kit remains on sale for just $149.99. Talk about Daylight Savings Time (that’s OK, you’ll get it later…)!
Perhaps you’ve thought that the idea of setting up a solar system would be cool, but also a little intimidating. What’s in the kit? How do you put it together? What else do you need? How much do you need to know? The truth is, you don’t have to be a whiz kid to put something functional and efficient together for your home, garage, barn, shed, RV, camp or bug-out shelter.
In his first video, he goes over what the kit includes and also points out that you’ll also need at least one 12-volt battery (2 or more would be better– he recommends deep cycle) and a power inverter to make the system fully useful. For his demonstration he uses the Cen-Tech 750 Watt Power Inverter, but in the spirit of “More Is Better”– that is, if you intend to use the solar system for larger machinery or appliances– I suggest getting the Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Power Inverter. Of course, it depends on what you need the solar energy for. If you’re in a cabin and intend to occasionally vacuum or use a microwave, the 750 watt inverter won’t cut it.
Here’s a general guide of determining how big of an inverter you might need:
|Appliance||Est. Watts||Appliance||Est. Watts|
|Cell phone||24||CD player||400|
|TV 25″||175||Jig saw||350|
|Laptop computer||65-90||Circular saw||1250|
|Computer & monitor||400||1/2″ drill||700|
|Coffee maker||800||Satellite dish||75|
If you are really considering putting together a solar kit, one of best DIY solar websites to get acquainted with is the Do It Yourself Solar Energy Forum. This terrific site is a wealth of information with tips, tutorials, videos and plain old general knowledge. Chances are good if you have a question, it’s been asked and answered on this forum. There’s a lot of coverage on the Harbor Freight 45-watt solar panel kit, too. Videos include everything from assembly, set-up, add-ons and plenty of personal mods from folks looking to build the better mousetrap. There are even videos on solar panel kit performance during rain and snow. My favorite video on this site was made by Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor:
I don’t think there’s a more practical and informative DIY video on home solar power set-ups out there. Larry followed this first how-to video with a Workshop #2 and a three-part Workshop #3. If you want to get some insight of just what you can do with your newly-harnessed solar power, definitely check these out.
Preppers represent a good number of the solar kit shoppers, which only makes sense. Nobody anticipates contingencies like a prepper. Only two weeks ago I wrote about Chappy from NewSurvivalSkills.com and how he employed a Harbor Freight solar panel briefcase to get power in the wild.
Another prepper clip I came across was from a guy with the moniker, ncprepper1. He uses three solar panel kits to run a 36″ TV (even in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you gotta have your TV), laptop, lights, a camera system, and more. To make room for even more solar kits, he shows how to build a wooden rack that can add three, making a total of 18 solar panels . Not to be outdone, LDSPrepper installed 4 solar panel kits (180 watts) on the side of his house with a 1500 watt power inverter, and poses a convincing argument for why he decided to go with Harbor Freight solar panels.
Incidentally, LDSPrepper– who actually has a whole series of solar panel videos worth plowing through– repeatedly credits another YouTuber, econewpower, for helping him get started. This guy supplies his own treasure trove of solar panel kit how-to videos: I recommend starting with his How To Install Harbor Freight Solar Panels Part 1 . I think there are five parts in this series, plus he has other DIY solar videos on hand.
With the advent of spring fast approaching, it’s a great time to get started on your solar system project. Whether it be for emergencies, saving electricity costs or going green, solar is a solid alternative energy that, in extreme cases, could potentially save you and your family from losing creature comforts, food supplies or even lives.
Check out these and other videos on DIY solar panel kits and projects online!